Château d'Amboise

The Château d'Amboise is a château in Amboise, located in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. Confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century, it became a favoured royal residence and was extensively rebuilt. King Charles VIII died at the château in 1498 after hitting his head on a door lintel. The château fell into decline from the second half of the 16th century and the majority of the interior buildings were later demolished, but some survived and have been restored, along with the outer defensive circuit of towers and walls. It has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1840. The Château d'Amboise is situated at an elevation of 81 meters.[1]

Ambuaz IMG 1760
Château d'Amboise on the river Loire



Amboise castle, aerial view
The château seen from the south

The Château d'Amboise was built on a spur above the River Loire. The strategic qualities of the site were recognised before the medieval construction of the castle, and a Gallic oppidum was built there.[2] In the late 9th century Ingelgarius was made viscount of Orléans and through his mother was related to Hugh the Abbot, tutors to the French kings. Ingelgarius married Adelais, a member of a prominent family (a bishop and archbishop were her uncles) who controlled Château d'Amboise. He was later made Count of the Angevins and his rise can be attributed to his political connections and reputation as a soldier. Château d'Amboise would pass through Ingelgarius and Adelais' heirs, and he was succeeded by their son, Fulk the Red. As Fulk the Red expanded his territory, Amboise, Loches, and Villentrois formed the core of his possessions.[3] Amboise lay on the eastern frontier of the Angevins holdings.[4]

Amboise and its castle descended through the family to Fulke Nerra in 987. Fulk had to contend with the ambitions of Odo I, Count of Blois who wanted to expand his own territory into Anjou. Odo I could call on the support of many followers and instructed Conan, Count of Rennes, Gelduin of Saumr, and Abbot Robert of Saint-Florent de Saumur to harass Fulk's properties. While Conan was busy on Anjou's western border, Gelduin and Robert attempted to isolate the easternmost castles of Amboise and Loches by raiding the Saumurois and disrupting communications.[5] To further threaten Amboise, fortifications were erected at Chaumont and Montsoreau, while Saint-Aignan was garrisoned.[6]

Royal residence

The château rises above its surrounding town

Expanded and improved over time, on 4 September 1434 it was seized by Charles VII of France, after its owner, Louis d'Amboise, Viscount of Thours (1392–1469), was convicted of plotting against Louis XI and condemned to be executed in 1431. However, the king pardoned him but took his château at Amboise. Once in royal hands, the château became a favourite of French kings, from Louis XI to Francis I.[7] Charles VIII decided to rebuild it extensively, beginning in 1492 at first in the French late Gothic Flamboyant style and then after 1495 employing two Italian mason-builders, Domenico da Cortona and Fra Giocondo, who provided at Amboise some of the first Renaissance decorative motifs seen in French architecture. The names of three French builders are preserved in the documents: Colin Biart, Guillaume Senault and Louis Armangeart.

Following the Italian War of 1494–1495, Charles brought Italian architects and artisans to France to work on the château, and turn it into "the first Italianate palace in France".[8] Among the people Charles brought from Italy was Pacello da Mercogliano who designed the gardens at the Châteaux of Ambois and Blois; his work was highly influential amongst French landscape designers.[9] Charles died at Château d'Amboise in 1498 after he hit his head on a door lintel.[8] Before his death he had the upper terrace widened to hold a larger parterre and enclosed with latticework and pavilions; his successor, Louis XII, built a gallery round the terrace which can be seen in the 1576 engraving by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, in Les plus excellens bastimens de France. The parterres have been recreated in the twentieth century as rectangles of lawns set in gravel and a formal bosquet of trees.

The chapel of Saint-Hubert where Leonardo da Vinci is buried

King Francis I was raised at Amboise, which belonged to his mother, Louise of Savoy, and during the first few years of his reign, the château reached the pinnacle of its glory. As a guest of the King, Leonardo da Vinci came to Château Amboise in December 1515 and lived and worked in the nearby Clos Lucé, connected to the château by an underground passage. Records show that at the time of Leonardo da Vinci's death on 2 May 1519, he was buried in the Chapel of St. Florentin, originally located (before it was razed at the end of 18th century) approximately 100 meters NE of the Chapel of St. Hubert. This Chapel of St. Florentin belonged to the royal castle and lay within the stone fortifications surrounding the property of the Château d'Amboise, and it should not to be confused with the nearby Église Saint-Florentin, also in Amboise, but not located within the property borders of the Château d'Amboise.

After the French Revolution (1789–1799), the Chapel of St. Florentin was in such a ruinous state that the engineer appointed by Napoleon decided that it was not worth preserving and had it demolished. The remaining stonework was used to repair the Château d'Amboise. Some sixty years later (and 330 years after Leonardo's death and original burial), the foundational site of the Chapel of St. Florentin was excavated: it is alleged that a complete skeleton was found, with fragments of a stone inscription containing some of the letters of his name. However, other accounts describe heaps of bones (as is customary in chapels throughout France) and even anecdotes of children kicking skulls around for fun and games. Nonetheless, based on some contemporaneous accounts, it is the collection of bones that were found to be whole and with an extraordinarily large skull that are supposed to be buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, where now a large floor-level marble stone bearing a metal medallion relief portrait of Leonardo da Vinci (based on the "Melzi's portrait") and the words LEONARDO DA VINCI seem indicative of his final resting place.

Henry II and his wife, Catherine de' Medici, raised their children in the Château d'Amboise, along with Mary Stuart, the child Queen of Scotland who had been promised in marriage to the future French Francis II.

Amboise conspiracy

In 1560, during the French Wars of Religion, a conspiracy by members of the Huguenot House of Bourbon against the House of Guise that virtually ruled France in the name of the young Francis II was uncovered by the comte de Guise and stifled by a series of hangings, which took a month to carry out. By the time it was finished, 1200 Protestants were gibbetted, strung from the town walls, hung from the iron hooks that held pennants and tapestries on festive occasions and from the very balcony of the Logis du Roy. The Court soon had to leave the town because of the smell of corpses.

The abortive peace of Amboise was signed at Amboise on 12 March 1563, between Louis I de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, who had been implicated in the conspiracy to abduct the king, and Catherine de' Medici. The "edict of pacification", as it was termed, authorised Protestant services only in chapels of seigneurs and justices, with the stipulation that such services be held outside the walls of towns. Neither side was satisfied by this compromise, nor was it widely honored.

Detail of Late Gothic carving on the Chapel of Saint-Hubert


Amboise never returned to royal favour. At the beginning of the 17th century, the huge château was all but abandoned when the property passed into the hands of Gaston d'Orleans, the brother of the Bourbon King Louis XIII. After his death it returned to the Crown and was turned into a prison during the Fronde, and under Louis XIV of France it held disgraced minister Nicolas Fouquet and the duc de Lauzun. Louis XV made a gift of it to his minister the duc de Choiseul, who had recently purchased the Château de Chanteloup to the west. During the French Revolution, the greater part of the château was demolished,[10] a great deal more destruction was done, and an engineering assessment commissioned by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 19th century resulted in a great deal of the château having to be demolished.

Since 1840, the Château d'Amboise has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.[11] King Louis-Philippe began restoring it during his reign but with his abdication in 1848, the château was confiscated by the government. The captive Emir Abd Al-Qadir, who resisted the French colonisation of Algeria, and an entourage of family and retainers were transferred to Château d'Amboise in November 1848.[12] In 1852 an article in Bentley's Miscellany noted that before Abd Al-Qadir took up residence in the château, it had frequently been visited by tourists.

Amboise, a few years since, was a smiling, lively little town, and the castle was a pleasure residence of the last king; the gardens were delicious, the little chapter of St. Hubert a gem, restored in all its lustre, and the glory of artists and amateurs. All is now changed: a gloom has fallen on the scene, the flowers are faded, the gates are closed, they pretty pavilions are shut-up; there are guards instead of gardeners, and a dreary prison frowns over the reflecting waters, which glide mournfully past the towers.

— Bentley's Miscellany, 1852[13]

Later that year, in October, President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte visited Abd al-Qadir at Amboise to give him the news of his release.[14] In 1873, Louis-Philippe’s heirs were given control of the property and a major effort to repair it was made, directed by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. During the German invasion in 1940 the château was damaged further. Today, the present comte de Paris, descendant of Louis-Philippe, repairs and maintains the château through the Fondation Saint-Louis.



Château d'Amboise

Amboise Chataux

Another view of the Château.


The town of Amboise from the Château.


Leonardo da Vinci tomb in the chapel of Saint-Hubert.

Tomb Da Vinci Interior

Stained glass in the chapel of Saint-Hubert.

From Chateau de Amboise across the Loire

View across the Loire from the Château.


Floor Plan of the Château d'Amboise

See also


  1. ^ Château d'Amboise Elevation and Location
  2. ^ Garrett 2010, p. 97
  3. ^ Bachrach 1993, pp. 4–5
  4. ^ Bachrach 1993, pp. 15–16
  5. ^ Bachrach 1993, pp. 27–28
  6. ^ Bachrach 1993, pp. 36–37
  7. ^ Garrett 2010, p. xx
  8. ^ a b Garrett 2010, p. 100
  9. ^ Benevolo 1978, p. 363
  10. ^ Today's visitor sees about a fifth of what Amboise once was, and can gain an impression of its extent by walking its parapets.
  11. ^ Monuments Historiques et Immeubles protégés sur Amboise (in French),, retrieved 2012-04-23
  12. ^ Garrett 2010, p. 101
  13. ^ Anon 1852, p. 258
  14. ^ Garrett 2010, p. 102
  • Anon (1852), "The Arabs at Amboise", Bentley's Miscellany, Richard Bentley: 258–262
  • Benevolo, Leonardo (1978) [1968], Landry, Judith (ed.), The Architecture of the Renaissance, Volume 1, ISBN 0-415-26709-9
  • Bachrach, Bernard S. (1993), Fulk Nerra, the neo-Roman consul, 987–1040: a political biography of the Angevin count, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-07996-0
  • Garrett, Martin (2010), The Loire: A Cultural History, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-976839-4

Further reading

  • Dupuch, Antoine-Adolphe (1849). Abd-el-Kader au château d'Amboise. Bordeaux: Imprimerie de H. Faye. OCLC 457413515.

External links

Coordinates: 47°24′47″N 0°59′09″E / 47.41306°N 0.98583°E

1516 in art

The year 1516 in art involved some significant events and new works.

Adelais of Amboise

Adelais of Amboise (sometimes called Aelinde) (fl. 865), came from an influential Frankish family in the Loire Valley. Through her mother, whose name is unknown, she was the niece of Adelard, Archbishop of Tours, and Raino, Bishop of Angers. In 865, her uncles arranged a marriage for her to a Frankish man named Ingelger, described as a miles optimus, whose devotion to Charles the Bald had been rewarded with land and military commands. Adelais’ dowry included Buzençais, Châtillon-sur-Indre, and the fortress of Amboise, which ultimately grew to be the royal residence known as the Château d'Amboise. Adelais and Ingelger, who has been identified as either a viscount or the first count of Anjou, were the parents of Fulk the Red, who became the first hereditary count of Anjou. According to the Gesta Consulum Andegavorum, “after the death of her husband, Adelais was unjustly accused of adultery by a group of nobles led by ‘Guntrannus parens Ingelgerii’ but later exonerated.” Geoffrey of Anjou, founder of England’s Plantagenet dynasty, traced his ancestry to Adelais and Ingelger.


Amboise (pronounced [ɑ̃bwaz]) is a commune in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France. It lies on the banks of the Loire River, 27 kilometres (17 mi) east of Tours. Today a small market town, it was once home of the French royal court. The town of Amboise is also only about 18 kilometres (11 mi) away from the historic Château de Chenonceau, situated on the Cher River near the small village of Chenonceaux.


In the French formal garden, a bosquet (French, from Italian bosco, "grove, wood") is a formal plantation of trees, at least five of identical species planted as a quincunx, or set in strict regularity as to rank and file, so that the trunks line up as one passes along either face. Symbolic of order in a humanized and tamed Gardens of the French Renaissance and Baroque Garden à la française landscape, the bosquet is an analogue of the orderly orchard, an amenity that has been intimately associated with pleasure gardening from the earliest Persian gardens of the Achaemenids.

Charles VIII of France

Charles VIII, called the Affable (French: l'Affable; 30 June 1470 – 7 April 1498), was King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498, the seventh from the House of Valois. He succeeded his father Louis XI at the age of 13. His elder sister Anne acted as regent jointly with her husband Peter II, Duke of Bourbon until 1491 when the young king turned 21 years of age. During Anne's regency, the great lords rebelled against royal centralisation efforts in a conflict known as the Mad War (1485–1488), which resulted in a victory for the royal government.

In a remarkable stroke of audacity, Charles married Anne of Brittany in 1491 after she had already been married by proxy to the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in a ceremony of questionable validity. Preoccupied by the problematic succession in the Kingdom of Hungary, Maximilian failed to press his claim. Upon his marriage, Charles became administrator of Brittany and established a personal union that enabled France to avoid total encirclement by Habsburg territories.

To secure his rights to the Neapolitan throne that René of Anjou had left to his father, Charles made a series of concessions to neighbouring monarchs and conquered the Italian peninsula without much opposition. A coalition formed against the French invasion of 1494-98 finally drove out Charles' army, but Italian Wars would dominate Western European politics for over 50 years.

Charles died in 1498 after accidentally striking his head on the lintel of a door at the Château d'Amboise, his place of birth. Since he had no male heir, he was succeeded by his cousin Louis XII of France from the Orléans cadet branch of the House of Valois.

Charlotte of France

Charlotte of France (23 October 1516 – 18 September 1524) was the second child and second daughter of King Francis I and his wife Claude.

Chateau Marmont Hotel

Chateau Marmont is a hotel located at 8221 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. The hotel was designed by architect Arnold A. Weitzman and William Douglas Lee (and The Chateau Marmont Annex by architect W. Gayle Daniel) and completed in 1929. It was modeled loosely after the Château d'Amboise, a royal retreat in France's Loire Valley.The hotel has 63 rooms and suites priced from $575 to $3,000 per night.

Château de Chanteloup

The Château de Chanteloup was an imposing 18th-century French château with elaborate gardens, compared by some contemporaries to Versailles. It was located in the Loire Valley on the south bank of the River Loire, downstream from the town of Amboise and about 2.3 kilometres (1.4 mi) southwest of the royal Château d'Amboise. From 1761 to 1785 Chanteloup belonged to King Louis XV's prime minister, the Duke of Choiseul. The château was mostly demolished in 1823, but some features of the park remain, notably the Pagoda of Chanteloup, a significant tourist attraction.

Châteaux of the Loire Valley

The Châteaux of the Loire Valley (French: Châteaux de la Loire) are part of the architectural heritage of the historic towns of Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Montsoreau, Nantes, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours along the Loire River in France. They illustrate Renaissance ideals of design in France.The châteaux of the Loire Valley number over three hundred, including practical fortified castles in the 10th century to splendid residences built half a millennium later. When the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux in the Loire Valley, the nobility, drawn to the seat of power, followed suit, attracting the finest architects and landscape designers. The châteaux and their surrounding gardens are cultural monuments which stunningly embody the ideals of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Many of the châteaux were built on hilltops, such as the Château d'Amboise, while the only one built in the riverbed is the Château de Montsoreau. Many had exquisite churches on the grounds or within the château.

Clos Lucé

The Château du Clos Lucé (or simply Clos Lucé) is a large château in the city of Amboise, France. The place is famous for being the official residence of Leonardo da Vinci between 1516 and 1519, when Leonardo died.

Clos Lucé is located at 500 metres from the royal Château d'Amboise, to which it is connected by an underground passageway. Built by Hugues d'Amboise in the middle of the fifteenth century, it was acquired in 1490 by Charles VIII of France for his wife, Anne de Bretagne. Later, it was used by Francis I, as well as his sister Marguerite de Navarre, who began writing her book entitled L'Heptaméron while living there.

In 1516, King Francis I of France invited Leonardo da Vinci to Amboise and provided him with the Clos Lucé, then called Château de Cloux, as a place to stay and work. Leonardo, a famous painter and inventor, arrived with three of his paintings, namely the Mona Lisa, Sainte Anne, and Saint Jean Baptiste. Leonardo lived at the Clos Lucé for the last three years of his life, and died there on 2 May 1519.

Today, the Clos Lucé is a Leonardo da Vinci museum that reflects the prestigious history of the region and includes forty models of the various machines designed by Leonardo. The museum also includes a copy of the Mona Lisa, painted in 1654 by Ambroise Dubois.

Colin Biart

Colin Biart, also called Colin Biard, Nicolas Biart or Colin Byart or Nicolas Byart, was a French master mason, master builder, and architect, born in Amboise in 1460, active until 1515.

Françoise d'Humières

Françoise d'Humières, Dame de Contay, née de Contay (circa 1489-1557), was a French court official; she served as Governess of the Children of France from 1546 to 1557.

Françoise d'Humières was the daughter of Charles de Contay, senechal du Maine, and Barbe de Hallwin, and married the courtier Jean d'Humières (d. 1550) in 1507. She inherited the lordship of Contay from her father, and became Dame de Contay.

In 1546, she and her spouse where appointed governor and governess to the Dauphin, and subsequently became the main governor and governess to all the children of king Henry II of France and Catherine de Medici. The royal children were raised under their direct supervision, under the orders of Diane de Poitiers. As head governor and governess, the d'Humières couple headed the staff of the royal nursery, staff of about 250 people, which included tutors and governesses of lower rank, who attended more directly to each of the children. Among them was notably Marie-Catherine Gondi, who served as sub-governess. The royal children where mainly raised away from the rest of the court on Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and when the royal court visited Saint Germain, the nursery was sent to Château de Blois or Château d'Amboise. From 1548, the nursery was expanded to include Mary, Queen of Scots and her governess (Janet Stewart, Lady Fleming, later Françoise de Paroy) and personal Scottish entourage of about 30 people.

When her spouse died in 1550, he was succeeded as governor by Claude d'Urfé, who was given charge of the finances of the royal nursery, but the king confirmed Françoise d'Humières as main governess with the responsibility for his children.

Several letters are known between the king and queen and the d'Humières regarding the upbringing of the royal children.

Gardens of the French Renaissance

The Gardens of the French Renaissance is a garden style, initially inspired by the Italian Renaissance garden, which evolved later into the grander and more formal Garden à la française during the reign of Louis XIV, by the middle of the 17th century.

In 1495, King Charles VIII and his nobles brought the Renaissance style back to France after their war campaign in Italy. They reached their peak in the gardens of the royal Château de Fontainebleau, the Château-Gaillard of Amboise, the Château de Blois, and the Château de Chenonceau.

French Renaissance gardens were characterized by symmetrical and geometric planting beds or parterres; plants in pots; paths of gravel and sand; terraces; stairways and ramps; moving water in the form of canals, cascades and monumental fountains, and extensive use of artificial grottoes, labyrinths and statues of mythological figures. They became an extension of the châteaux that they surrounded, and were designed to illustrate the Renaissance ideals of measure and proportion, and to remind viewers of the virtues of Ancient Rome.

Gilbert, Count of Montpensier

Gilbert de Bourbon, Count of Montpensier (1443 – 15 October 1496, Pozzuoli) was the son of Louis de Bourbon and Gabrielle La Tour, Count of Montpensier and Dauphin d'Auvergne. He was appointed to the Order of Saint Michael by Charles VIII in October 1483.


Indre-et-Loire (French pronunciation: ​[ɛ̃dʁ‿e lwaʁ]) is a department in west-central France named after the Indre River and Loire River. In 2016, it had a population of 606,223. Sometimes referred to as Touraine, the name of the historic region, it nowadays is part of the Centre-Val de Loire region. Its prefecture is Tours and subprefectures are Chinon and Loches. Indre-et-Loire is a touristic destination for its numerous monuments that are part of the Châteaux of the Loire Valley.

Leonardo's self-propelled cart

Leonardo's self-propelled cart is an invention designed by Leonardo da Vinci, considered the ancestor of the modern automobile.

List of castles in the Centre-Val de Loire region

This list of castles in the Centre-Val de Loire region is a list of medieval castles or châteaux forts in this French region.

Links in italics are links to articles in the French Wikipedia.

Loire Valley

The Loire Valley (French: Vallée de la Loire, pronounced [vale də la lwaʁ]), spanning 280 kilometres (170 mi), is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France, in both the administrative regions Pays de la Loire and Centre-Val de Loire. The area of the Loire Valley comprises about 800 square kilometres (310 sq mi). It is referred to as the Cradle of the French and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards (such as cherries), and artichoke, and asparagus fields, which line the banks of the river. Notable for its historic towns, architecture, and wines, the valley has been inhabited since the Middle Palaeolithic period. In 2000, UNESCO added the central part of the Loire River valley to its list of World Heritage Sites.

Max Ingrand

Maurice Max-Ingrand, better known as Max Ingrand (20 December 1908, Bressuire – 25 August 1969, Paris) was a French artist and decorator, known for his work in studio glass and his stained glass windows.

He was educated at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts and École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs, studying under Jacques Grüber and Charles Lemaresquier.

He married Paulette Rouquié (1910−1997) in 1931. He worked with his wife in glass etching, exhibiting work at the 21st Société des artistes décorateurs in 1931.

Ingrand began to work in stained glass windows for private commissions. His first church windows were for Sainte-Agnès, Maisons-Alfort and participating in the design for Notre-Dame de Paris in 1937. He was drafted for military service in 1939 and fell into captivity at Hoyerswerda in May 1940. He returned from captivity only in 1945. He divorced his wife in 1946 and married Marie-Alberte Madre-Rey, with whom he had two children.

He was artistic director of Milano interior design company Fontana Arte during 1954–1967. He was elected president of the French scouting association (Association Française de l'Éclairage) in 1968. He founded the company Verre Lumière, one of the first producers of halogen lamps, in 1968.

Ingrand created numerous church stained glass windows during the late 1940s to 1960s (in some cases replacing windows that had been destroyed in World War II) including windows in

Pontoise Cathedral (1955),Strasbourg Cathedral (1956),

the chapels of Château de Blois (1957), Château d'Amboise, Château de Chenonceau and Château de Caen,

Saint-Pierre de Yvetot (at 1046 m² the largest stained glass window in Europe),

Saint-Pierre de Montmartre,

Rouen Cathedral,

Beauvais Cathedral,

Saint-Malo Cathedral,

Tours Cathedral,

Church of the Jacobins,

Münster Cathedral (1961),

Liège Cathedral (1968),

São Paulo Cathedral,

Washington National Cathedral (with Claude Serre),

Cathedral of the Risen Christ (Lincoln, Nebraska) (1964),

St. Dominic Church in San Francisco,

the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth.

Max Ingrand was noted for his modern designs. This can be seen in the stained-glass windows behind the main altar at the Basilica of St Michel Church in Bordeaux (Ref:

Ingrand died unexpectedly from influenza in Paris in 1969.

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